The other day I was making a video for my daughter’s 22nd birthday. She’s away at college, and I was thinking about the various ways we celebrated when she was little. I began going through photos and videos and reminiscing. As I went through I noticed a few things:
There weren’t a ton of photos with me in them.
When I did see myself, my attention immediately went to “what weight was that?”
Becoming a mother and raising my two kids has taught me one very powerful lesson: Time passes quickly. As each day passes, they change, they grow, and before you know it, they leave the nest. As the memories danced in my head, so did the realization that many times I was not fully present to the awesomeness that was happening around me. I had anxiety, I was caught up in future thinking. I was stressed about work or money or angry about some past issue. I was shaming myself for not being at the weight I wanted to be. I was distracting myself instead of embracing and relishing the moments.
I had a big conversation going on, grinding about where I wasn’t, what I didn’t have, the weight I wanted to lose, how I wasn’t camera ready, or how I didn’t deserve to buy nice clothes. Everything “good” seemed to be out of my reach. And yet, everything good and whole and perfect was all around me. My attention was elsewhere.
There is no “there” there. All that is real is this moment. That was and is the lesson. Every time we go down the road of regret or self-recrimination we are being presented with an opportunity to shift the energy, to choose again. Old triggers rise and we have a choice. We can operate from those old webs playing from the past or we can choose to shift our energy, and bring ourselves to this moment. When we choose fear, we can choose again.
In that moment of looking at photos, I realized I was being presented with this very lesson. I could stand in sadness and regret for missing those moments or I could recognize I have a choice as to how I hold the past and future. This is not a one and done proposition. And I have not been able to transform it without one very important tool.
When I began my meditation practice, not much happened at first. I began it because I was sick and tired of the negativity, of my blaming attitude toward my weight and toward my failures. I hit a rock bottom, and it cracked me open and forced me to surrender. I asked for help. I needed and wanted to do things differently.
I began with a simple 10 minute increment. You can do just about anything for 10 minutes, right? Even if it’s something you’re not excited about or think you won’t be good at it.
I wanted more joy in my life. I wanted to know what it was like to feel that all was truly well within me. So I decided to do it the same way I began my Luminous journey: One day at a time. I committed to doing it for 7 days straight.
I listened to guided meditations or meditation music. Now I mostly do just music. Music helps my focus. This is one of my favorites… Aad Guray Nameh by Jai-Jagdeesh. This is a Kundalini mantra. Its translation:
I bow to the Primal Wisdom.
I bow to the Wisdom through the Ages.
I bow to the True Wisdom.
I bow to the great, unseen Wisdom
This is a mantra of protection, invoking the protective energy of the universe. You can find Jai-Jagdeesh on Apple Music, iTunes or Soundcloud…
My meditation goal wasn’t to dismiss all thought. I focused instead on bringing my attention to the present, allowing myself to separate from the “conversation” occurring in my head. If a thought enters, I acknowledge it and let it go. Underneath the conversation there is a fullness.
When I need a little extra help getting there, I call in joyful memories. I allow that memory to trigger the warmth that exists beneath. I allow it to expand, and I witness the opening that occurs. This feeling is hard for me to articulate. It’s something I’d read about but had never really experienced. My best attempt at describing it is this: It’s very much like the feeling you get when you are deeply moved by something, when you feel your eyes well up with tears, and there is a great warmth that washes over you. In your tears, you surrender to the moment, to the wave of feeling that washes over you. That’s your essence. Everything else falls away, and the warmth expands.
If my thoughts start to bubble up, I focus on the mantra, and I surrender more. Surrendering is one of the most powerful things you can do. You might even ask for help in the form of a little prayer… “Help me to surrender, to quiet my mind and heart. I am open.”
At first, it might feel like nothing is happening. Stay with it, be patient with your mind and keep practicing. Once you feel it, it will get easier to bring yourself into it each time. Here’s an interesting conversation Oprah had recently on meditation and what some of her friends say…
Almost immediately I began to feel lighter, and less overwhelmed. I began losing weight again, having less drama about it (28 pounds lighter since my “reboot”). I began to let go of judgment and regret. There is still healing to be done. But like my food plan, I know what to do to get better results and more joy.
I now do about 20 minutes of meditation each day. Sometimes I do a walking meditation, listening to music as I walk. I focus on all that is around me. I take in the details and colors. If my mind wanders, I gently bring myself back by silently doing a mantra or simply focusing on the music.
In the past I haven’t made it important to make time for this kind of self-care. My excuse was I was too busy, too many things going on. But then I hit bottom, which in turn snapped me into recognizing I can’t afford NOT to do it. We make it important to shower and brush our teeth, right? Why isn’t it more important than that? So it’s now baked in as part of the morning routine the same way that preparing my food for the day has gotten baked in. That 20 minutes can shift me into a place of peace and my days feel better. I feel good. And feeling good means I have more to offer every person I encounter throughout the day. And if I notice myself slipping into a negative space, I know I can choose again. I can more easily tap into that warm place underneath the chatter. And I can see others without judgment. And when this happens, the world becomes a better place.